Restaurant #17: Tsuchiyasai, Sapporo
It is tough to survive in Sapporo’s food business. Under a depression, people go out less but still look for great food and service. Many restaurants prepare fresh, organic veggies and meats, but need to provide extra something.
Tsuchiyasai (土やさい), the Nouka Dining, has an interesting idea for attracting customers. This restaurant prepares a variety of vegetable menus and several meat items, which is good for meat lovers. After the meal, they prepare a great surprise for customers. They gave us a bag of organic veggies, for free! Their food and service were appropriate, but I liked the idea of this present. It simply made me happy.
Pink Grapefruit Juice and Mango Milk, with fresh cabbage
We did “kanpai” with drinks. Pink grapefruit juice was very fresh and not sweet that much. People might prefer sweeter one better, but I like less sweetness. My friend’s choice was mango milk. She immediately finished it and ordered oolong tea. She said it was too sweet...
Assorted Japanese Pickles
First item served by them was Assorted Japanese Pickles (土やさいの漬物盛り合わせ) (577 yen). Seasonable veggies were beautifully presented. From the left, Daikon (Japanese radish: 大根), Cabbage, Rakkyo (Japanese Shallot: 黒糖らっきょ), Turnip (かぶ), and Cucumber. I personally liked cucumber and cabbage. Japanese usually eat shallots with curry rice. I couldn't eat shallots even with curry rice, kids’ favorite, when I was a child. I simply didn’t like the taste. Now, since I became an adult, my taste dynamically changed, and I can eat anything! These shallots were from Miyazaki Prefecture (宮崎県), and it was pickled with brown sugar, which interestingly brought ginger flavor. I felt brown rakkyo was fruitier than the regular one. Tasty!
Fried Sweet Yam with cinnamon
Fried Sweet Yam with cinnamon (さつまいものシナモンスティック) (399 yen) was crispy, but too sweet as the second item. Cinnamon smelled perfectly, but there was sweet syrup all over the yam. We regretted that we should’ve order this as a dessert or much later. Yet, taste was good.
Vegetable Cheese Fondue
I think this was the main dish for us of the day; Organic Vegetable Cheese Fondue (有機お野菜のほくほくチーズフォンデュー) (1155 yen). Hmmm… smelled good! Tonight’s veggie selections were: Mizuna (水菜), Lettuce, Broccoli, Potato, Carrot, Pumpkin, Cauliflower, and a piece of French bread. All veggies except mizuna and lettuce were lightly steamed and it was still warm. In this season, pumpkin matches with hot cheese sauce and it makes our bodies warm. At the last, eating fresh mizuna and lettuce made us cool down, and again, it reminded us that all the veggies were fresh, just came from Japanese farms.
Besides tasting the delicious food, it was fun to do fondue with my best friend. We talked a lot and laughed a lot. Doing fondue brought us more conversation.
For me, Baked Yam (減農薬のまんまやまいも焼き) (472 yen) looked too fancy. Ha ha. Sliced yam was baked lightly, then Umeboshi (pickled plum: うめぼし) was sadly laid on it. It could be beautiful, or could be too fancy. Besides that, inside of a slice of yam was fresh and juicy, and outside was crispy. I enjoyed the contrast of food texture. I tried to understand the reason why the chef used umeboshi like this. It tasted great, but it really looked sad… Lonely umeboshi…
Ten-Grain Rice Creamy Risotto with Shrimp and Green Asparagus
Risotto is my all-time favorite, besides penne gratin. I guess I like the taste of cream white sauce with a bit of butter. Ten-Grain Rice Creamy Risotto with Shrimp and Green Asparagus (海老とアスパラの十穀米クリーミィリゾット) (924 yen) came with a taste of tomato sauce. I was surprised that the quantity was much less than I expected, so it helped that we ordered this as our last dish. I could tell that pieces of shrimp were fresh and it was cooked nicely. The color combination (white/green/red) was beautifully provided, and a taste came along with it. Rich flavor of the butter, mixed with tomato sauce, stayed in my mouth for a while. Well done.
Pumpkin Ice Cream and a cup of Japanese Tea
My friend found a coupon to get free dessert, so we got free pumpkin ice cream for each of us. I was amazed by the usage of cell phone in Japan. I knew the functions of a cell phone developed much quicker than American-used cell phones. Japanese people basically use it for the internet and e-mails. I see business people and kids are always busy to type some on the cell phone on the train; playing the game or net-surfing. Once we entered the restaurant, my friend started using her cell, and she found an online coupon. Wow… Thank you, my best friend!
The meeting with my best friend was fun. Healthy food warmed my heart as well. I have known her for 7 years already. We struggled and survived at the same college together. She got marreid now, and I am in and out of Japan--two different lives. I am happy that I still have her as my best friend and am still able to share our stories like the old time.
Total: About 5600 yen (all the items above, plus some drinks. Sorry I don't remember the exact price.)
Minami 3-jo Nishi 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo